NASHVILLE, TN (CelebrityAccess) — Alabama frontman and Country Music Hall of Famer Randy Owen was surprised with the CMA Foundation Humanitarian Award during a CMA board reception at the Analog at Hutton Hotel in Nashville on Tuesday.
Owen, who thought he was there to present an industry honor to radio veteran Lon Helton but had the tables turned on him. As the event unfolded, Owen realized he’d been fooled when Helton took the stage to announce the award.
“I’m truly surprised and grateful for this award,” Owen told the audience while accepting the award. “Hopefully, this will inspire other artists to follow their hearts to help the down and out, the helpless and especially sick children and families in need. I am so grateful to my longtime friend Lon Helton for presenting me with this award.”
The CMA Foundation Humanitarian Award recognizes the contribution of individuals who play a leadership role as a humanitarian through community leadership, financial support, personal volunteerism, and advocacy.
After he signed on to help raise funds for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 1998, Owen went on to create one of the most successful fundraising campaigns in radio history. Since its inception, Country Cares has raised more than $875 million for the hospital and served as a template for similar initiatives.
Owen also spearheaded initiatives such as the June Jam festivals, which have raised over $15 million for charities, Alabama Sheriffs Boys Ranch summer camps and celebrity golf tournaments as well as tornado and hurricane benefits.
As well, Alabama performed in a 2017 hurricane benefit, supporting the victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. The event raised $40 million and drew five former U.S. presidents to attend: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter.